We Can Strengthen Our Workforce by Focusing on Early Childhood Development

June 23, 2017

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L-R- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Cheryl Oldham moderates a panel on childcare featuring Phil Acord, President and CEO of the Chambliss Center for Children; Jan Kruchoski, managing principal of CliftonLarsonAllen Search; and Katharine Stevens, resident scholar in education policy studies at AEI. June 21, 2017.

Takeaways

"Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow" event brings together experts in childhood development and business.

On June 21, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce hosted an event “Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare,” bringing together early childhood development experts and business leaders to discuss the role of high-quality childcare in strengthening our nation’s economic prosperity. 

The event coincided with the release of CEW’s new report of the same name, which outlines the case for high-quality childcare as a unique two-generation solution that simultaneously supports the current workforce while laying the crucial groundwork for tomorrow’s workforce.

Panelists and speakers expanded on this concept, offering insights into the impact of early life experiences on a child’s long-term cognitive and emotional development, and the implications for our education system and ultimately our workforce.

“Achievement gaps are emerging much earlier than we previously understood,” said Katharine B. Stevens, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. “The costs of children arriving in kindergarten not ready to learn are enormously high.”

The importance of the early years for laying the foundation for future human capital development were reiterated by speakers including renowned neuroscientist, Pat Levitt of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and pediatrician and author Dr. Laura Jana.

Panelists at the June 21 event also discussed the impact of high-quality settings on early development, and the need to invest in the childcare workforce.

The event also focused on the economics of early childhood development, with Arthur J. Rolnick, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of Human Capital Research at the Humphrey School of Public Policy, saying “I want you to think of early childhood development as economic development.”

Companies including Boeing, Patagonia, and Procter & Gamble also discussed their commitment to childcare and early education, highlighting investments in onsite childcare and corporate citizenship initiatives.

The event closed with a message of action from business leaders including Tony Carvajal from the Florida Chamber Foundation, and Doug Luciani of TraverseCONNECT calling for the business community to take a leadership role in advancing access to high-quality childcare, not as a moral issue, but as a bottom line issue. 

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